September 30, 2015

"Practice Makes Perfect" Open House Prepares Franklin County Poll Workers For Election Day

In our last blog post, we outlined ways jurisdictions can effectively educate their voters. This week, we’d like to spotlight Franklin County, Ohio and its efforts to ensure poll workers are educated as well. Their “Practice Makes Perfect” open house weekend not only helps poll workers get a refresher over materials they received earlier in the training period, it also won the Election Center’s Freedom Award for Innovation at the 2015 summer conference. 

Held every weekend before an election, Franklin County’s open house is a great example of ensuring better elections for both poll workers and voters. You can read more about the open house weekends and Franklin County in the below article from the September 14 edition of Election Administration Reports.

Franklin County, Ohio Practice Makes Perfect Open Houses for Poll Workers Receive Freedom Award from Election Center

The Election Center recognized Franklin County, Ohio with its Freedom Award for Innovation at its 2015 summer conference. The county received the award for a “Practice Makes Perfect” open house weekend of review for poll workers.

The open house for poll workers is held every weekend before an election and runs from Friday evening through Sunday. The county trains between 2,500 and 4,500 poll workers for each election, and training takes place over a seven-week period. Poll workers who are trained early in the training period have a greater chance of forgetting key information, which led the county to establish the Practice Makes Perfect open house. The open house also allows the county to retain poll workers who might have had difficulty during training and might need to be replaced. Based on recommendations made by poll worker trainers or written assessments completed by the poll worker, a poll worker may be required to attend the open house. The open house allows for customized review or additional training for each poll worker who is required to attend.

The Practice Makes Perfect Open House features a number of different components and training opportunities. A quick question center is a hands-on area that includes all of the supplies and forms necessary for poll workers to successfully complete their jobs on Election Day. This area is designed for poll workers who need specific help in one or two areas. Poll worker trainers can answer questions in this area, and poll workers can examine and use equipment, including accessible voting equipment, that will be used at their polling places on Election Day.

In ten-minute tune-up groups, poll workers collaborate in small groups consisting of six to eight poll workers. Lead by a poll worker trainer, the short sessions focus on determining if voters are regular or provisional voters, providing the correct provisional ballots for voters, and reviewing each section of the provisional envelope.  A more intense hands-on small group training is also provided for poll workers required to attend Practice Makes Perfect. In this session, a trainer helps groups practice actual voting scenarios and process voters using the same procedures they will complete on Election Day. These sessions last about thirty minutes, after which trainers can recommend that poll workers change their Election Day assignment if they are not able to master the skills necessary to work in a polling place.

The voting machine review is a section of the open house that offers practice using the county’s direct recording device voting machines. Poll workers are able to practice opening and closing procedures, processing voters, and printing a results tape at the end of the election. In this section of the open house, poll workers have the option to choose and practice the section of using the voting machines they need the most help with. 

Finally, the Practice Makes Perfect open house offers a “lab” for the more than 400 poll workers who work as voting location managers in the Franklin County. This lab is staffed by trainers as well as former voting location managers who work to calm fears and concerns of new managers and provide last-minute updates and changes that have been made by the secretary of state or board of elections.  Most managers who attend the open house begin in the lab and then visit the other areas for review on voting machines or help with quick questions.

The award winning “Practice Makes Perfect” open houses allow poll workers to spend as much time as they need to review materials and equipment prior to the election. Close to 40% of poll workers who worked in the May 5, 2015 municipal election attended the open house. The open house includes handouts with lesson plans, various scenarios, links to the poll worker manual, and crossword puzzles. 

More information on "Practice Makes Perfect" can be downloaded here.